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Build your own emergency bag


Build your own emergency bag

Can’t find the exact kit you want? Don’t want to pay for stuff you already have or don’t need? Build your own customized emergency bag!

The contents of your emergency kit are important, and we feel it’s worth the time to consider each item individually. We’ve put together a list of the things we think are good candidates for an emergency bag, with options at different price ranges. These items have been tested and we stand by them. As with all our products, if you decide you don’t like something, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days if unused and in original packaging. All items are optional – select, deselect, or change whatever you like, and we’ll ship it to you for free.

Backpacks and bags
Emergency Bag

All-Around Emergency Bag

Measuring approximately 21″ by 12″ by 8″, this sporty backpack has the style and features of a more expensive day pack, yet with a price that won’t make you feel bad about leaving it for when you really need it. You can always grab another one for the trail! It’s sized to fit what you need, and still be comfortable to carry long distances if necessary, with a large main compartment, a large external pocket for easy-grab items, a zippered small outside pocket, and two mesh side pockets for water bottles etc. Also comes with extra straps for carrying or attaching items.

Tactical backpack

Tactical Backpack

This rugged, versatile backpack comes in medium or large, to carry everything you need. It’s square shape makes it a bit less comfortable to carry long distances, but makes up for it in accessibility and organization.  2 separate internal compartments, one large with full zipper (3 sides) so it can be completely opened, which is great for finding items quickly. 2nd internal compartment also has long, 3/4 zipper, and there are two front pockets for smaller items. Comes with plenty of molle straps for clipping or attaching items. Fully adjustable shoulder straps.

Comes in two sizes: Medium, approx. 19″ x 10.5″ x 10.5″ and Large, approx. 21″ x 12″ x 12″.

Professional style backpack

Urban Professional Backpack

Need something to store at the office that doesn’t attract attention? Or perhaps you prefer a non-disaster looking bag? We’ve got you covered. This medium-sized backpack (19″x10.2″x10.2″) has a roomy large compartment with pockets for documents and a second smaller compartment, as well as a small zip pocket for easy-grab items. It’s even got a side pocket for a cell phone charger with an external jack so you can plug your phone right into the backpack. The material is surprisingly strong, and water resistant. Additional pictures on product page.


Drawstring backpack

Drawstring Backpack

An inexpensive option for smaller kits. Heavy-duty, waterproof drawstring backpack with Portland Earthquake Kits logo, thick string, size 15.75″ by 11.8″. This bag is small enough to fit under a car seat, or in a desk drawer, or in a larger commuter bag.

If you upgrade to a bigger backpack later, you can stow this as an extra bag for things you want to bring with you from the office, or store under your bed as a bedroom bag.


Life Straw filter

LifeStraw Water Filter

If you run out of bottled water and have to drink water that you find, the LifeStraw microbiological filter will filter out bacteria, parasites, microplastics, chlorine, and organic chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.) Filters 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters), enough drinking water for an individual for over 5 years. (Does NOT take replacement filters.) This is a great emergency option if you believe you will have access to water that may not be safe to drink, such as from streams or puddles of rainwater. You will want to have a container to collect the water before using, otherwise you will have to lean down close to the water with your face. You may want to consider adding a basic water bottle, or purchasing the LifeStraw Go which comes with a water bottle.

Emergency water

Emergency water pouch

Emergency water pouches, single servings of 125 ml each with no expiration date. (Recommended to replace after 5 years)

LifeStraw water bottle with filter

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

BPA-free water bottle with the LifeStraw microbiological filter included. If you need to drink from a water source that you suspect is not clean, you can fill this water bottle and drink straight from the nozzle to get filtered water immediately. This costs more than the LifeStraw Filter, but makes it much easier to collect water and drink it. However, note that the filter takes up space inside the bottle, meaning that there is less capacity for storing water: only 650ml. This item is ideal if you know you will be near a water source; otherwise, consider including a second water bottle or throwing some pouches in, as you will almost certainly want more water after a disaster.

Includes a biological filter with a 5 year lifetime and a carbon filter that is good for 25 gallons of water. Water can still be filtered after 25 gallons, but the effectiveness of the carbon decreases, which may affect the taste of the water. Consider picking up replacement filters if you think you will be using this for a long time.

LifeStraw filter replacements

LifeStraw Carbon Filter Replacements (2)

Replacement carbon filters for Life Straw Go Bottle. Each filter, including the one in LifeStrawGo, lasts for up to 25 gallons of water. If you think you might be filtering water for an extended period of time after an emergency, consider picking up some replacement filters. Protects against chlorine, organic chemical matter, and sand, dirt, cloudiness for improved taste, includes 2 carbon filters.

Nalgene Water Bottle

Nalgene Water Bottle

Basic water bottle, 1 quart. Made of HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), wide mouth for easy cleaning or filling with ice. Filling your own water bottle is cheaper than buying emergency water pouches, but you should replace the water at least every year as there will be some amount of leaching. This can be also combined with a Life Straw for a cheaper option than the Life Straw Bottle, and holds more water as there is no water displacement from the filter.

Water purification tablets

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets

A easy-to-use water purification solution in the form of an iodine based tablet. One bottle contains 50 tablets and will purify 25 to 50 quarts of water, depending on source of water. Note that these tablets work against bacteria but not chemicals, heavy metals, or other toxins that might have contaminated water sources such as rivers after a disaster.


Cooking & Food
Image of emergency food bars, Datrex 3600 calories each

Emergency Food Bars

Datrex 3600 calorie emergency food bar pack with 18 individually wrapped food bars – enough for 72 hours (3 days). U.S. Coast Guard approved, 5 year shelf life. All natural ingredients, no nuts, non-GMO. We tested all the emergency food options on the market, and these were the ones we found tasted the best. They provide good energy and don’t make you thirsty. However, note that 1200 calories a day is a minimum daily caloric intake – don’t expect to feel full. Still, you will want something to hold you over until food becomes available after a major disaster.

Folding emergency pocket stove for disasters

Mini pocket stove

The simplest, cheapest, and most reliable option for heating food. No moving parts, no experience necessary. Simply open the stove, place one of the fuel tablets on the tray, and light with a lighter. We looked at other portable stoves, but for an emergency bag you will probably only need to use the stove for a short period of time, so we don’t recommend purchasing something expensive if you don’t already own a camp stove.

The mini pocket stove works with hexamine fuel tablets (also available on this site). For each tablet, the flame burns for approximately 10 minutes, hot enough to boil 16 oz of water in December in Portland with no lid (tested). It should be used outdoors, always attended, and never near flammable materials. Remember, fires are a big deal after an earthquake as there may not be any running water, so extra precautions should be taken.

Hexamine fuel tabs for emergency stove

Fuel Tablets (For use with Mini-Stove)

Comes in a box of 8 tablets for use with the Mini-Stove. With these tablets, the Mini-Stove, and a handy Bic Lighter, you’ll be able to heat liquid and food in an emergency situation where the power might be out.

Image of stainless steel cup of a disaster preparedness kit

Stainless Steel Cup

16 oz stainless steel cup for heating food or water for hot drinks, with folding insulated handles for ease of use. Sized to hold 2 standard mugs of coffee/tea or soup packets for two people, or for heating up a can of chili, soup, etc. With a 4.25 inch base and a height of 4 inches, this cup won’t tip over easily on a small portable stove, such as our pocket stoves. One nice thing about these cups is that a water bottle can fit inside, so that it takes up no space in your bag.

Metal Spoon

Metal Spoon

Simple metal spoon to accompany our mini-stove, cup, and pot. While a plastic spoon may be lighter, you may want something durable enough to stir canned food, and it’s nicer to eat with.

image of cup made of wheat straw

Lightweight Cup

If you have a stove and anticipate heating up water for hot drinks or soup, you will want a cup, as a steel pot will be too hot to drink out of.  These eco-friendly cups are made out of wheat straw, which is durable, dishwasher safe, and very light. It will easily fit into one of our bags, and should be sturdy enough for any food type, and to withstand being packed around.

Starbucks Coffee Packet

Starbucks Coffee Packet

Instant coffee packet, Pike Place roast. Simply add to hot water. Imagine how nice it would be to be able to prepare a nice, hot cup of coffee after a disaster? Many of us rely on coffee every day, and having to go without would be very frustrating. It’s these little luxuries that will make a difference. Remember, it’s not about survival, it’s about comfort.

Coffee Creamer Packet, from coffee mate

Coffee Mate Creamer Packet

Dry, powdered coffee creamer. Simply tear and add to coffee or tea.

Single sugar packet for emergency cooking kit

Sugar Packet (1)

Simply tear and add to coffee or tea.

Image of bic lighter

Bic Lighter

Bic lighter for use with our mini-stove and a necessity for heating food & liquid.


Health and sanitation
Small First Aid Kit

Basic First Aid Kit

Our basic, small first aid kit for attending bleeding injuries. It contains sufficient bandaging material to cover a single major (non-arterial) bleeding injury as well as a selection of different sized band aids and bandages. Comes with easy-to-read Instruction Sheet with pointers for dealing with serious wounds or multiple victims.

Kit consists entirely of bandaging materials and is designed for office or city use (not wilderness). If you need a more comprehensive first aid kit, we recommend you purchase our Trauma Kit instead, or in conjunction with these smaller kits which can be used as bandage supplements.

See kit description for contents and details.
Stop the Bleed website

Image of 5 toilet bags for after an emergency

Extra Strength Toilet Bags (5)

5 Environmentally friendly, extra-strength .85 mil, 13 gallon Super Hexane waste bags made by Evolution Bags out of 100% recycled materials. After an earthquake, all solid human waste will need to be bagged and disposed of in accordance with instructions from local authorities. Consider that flush toilets connected to city sewer systems may not be operable for over a year, and there will be little water to clean anything (see chart at the bottom of our home page). All earthquake kits should include plastic bags big enough to poop into and toilet paper.

Super Hexane trash bags are among the strongest and most puncture resistant on the market. These 13 gallon bags can be conveniently used to line any empty toilet bowl (under the seat), used with a bucket toilet, or simply laid on the ground, with enough room to easily tie afterward and double back over for “double-bagging” protection.

Image of single pack of tissues

Pocket Tissues (1)

Single travel packs of tissues, standard size for for personal hygiene. Let’s be honest: you are not going to be worried about blowing your nose. The main need for these will be to wipe yourself if you have to poop. Bathrooms will not be usable and you should expect toilet paper to be in short supply.

Image of body wipe for staying clean after an earthquake

Body Wipe (1)

These wipes can be used to stay (relatively) clean and keep odors down if water is in short supply and bathing is not possible. We chose these for their strength and durability: they won’t tear, disintegrate, or come apart. Each wipe is 9″ by 7″, with 100% natural essential oils, including natural tea tree and eucalyptus oil that provide a spectrum of antimicrobial benefits and promote healthy skin. No parabens, sulfates, SLS, triclosan, or fragrances. Made in the USA.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Tea Tree Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, and Coco Glucoside.


Image of a microbial wipe

Antimicrobial Wipes

We recommend 5-10 of these, but at least a few. Antimicrobial products are antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Antibacterial products should always be used sparingly, but after an earthquake there will be no running water. These wipes are intended for use in scenarios where there is risk of infection, such as cleaning hands after touching blood or other potentially infectious matter or prior to eating with your hands. Note that diarrheal diseases are a major concern after disasters.

Hand sanitizer for hygiene

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer

An effective way to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria and prevent illness, these 2 Oz keychain bottles of 75% alcohol hand sanitizer can be easily clipped to the outside of your emergency bag.

KN95 Healthcare Mask

KN95 Disposable Healthcare Mask

Flat-fold, white, universal size.

Note: KN95s are Chinese masks that are not FDA approved.  Until U.S. masks are readily available at a reasonable price, we are substituting these, to be used as dust masks in a post-earthquake situation. They are also effective against diseases such as COVID 19.


Image of expandable file folder for organizing documents

Expandable Document Organizer

Expandable portable file folder with 13 pockets, for safeguarding important documents. If you need to evacuate after or in the face of an emergency, you should bring important documents with you. These include identifying information, such as birth or marriage certificates, passports, titles or deeds, financial documents including bank, loan, or asset information, medical and/or immunization documents, etc. An excellent checklist can be found here. For CERTS or emergency professionals, these provide a convenient way to organize any forms you may have to carry.

Image of a document storage case with clipboard

Clipboard storage case

Plastic, folding clipboard-document storage case combo for safeguarding forms, documents, or other paper materials. Fits approximately 100 sheets of letter size paper and includes pencil/pen holder inside. For professional/volunteer use as a CERT, emergency responder, etc., this will help you keep forms organized and dry in bad weather, and give you a nice surface for writing. For personal use, this storage case can be used to store important documents, such as home titles, marriage licenses, passports, financial documents, etc. Unfortunately, disasters often entail filling out forms (FEMA applications, financial aid, etc.) and keeping track of them.


Warm and dry
Emergency Sleeping Bag

Emergency Sleeping Bag

Measuring roughly 3 feet by 6.5 feet, this mylar emergency sleep sack is waterproof, light, and retains up to 90% of your body heat. We tested one in mid-winter and were very pleased to find that it actually keeps you quite warm. This is bigger and much more effective than an emergency blanket, and if you think you might have to spend the night outside, go for this one. You can also increase warmth by including extra insulation – clothes, paper, leaves, etc.

Emergency Blanket

Emergency Blanket

Foil mylar emergency blanket, waterproof, reflects up to 90% of body heat. Good for treating shock. 52″ by 84″, waterproof and weatherproof.

Emergency poncho

Emergency Rain Poncho

Basic rain poncho with hood, one-size-fits-all, approximately 4 feet from wrist to wrist with arms outstretched, and about 3.5 feet from neck to waist. Square shape with holes for hands, this shape is good for protecting whatever you are wearing and a backpack in moderate rain, and can also be cut at the sides and used as a tarp or groundsheet.

Emergency raincoat

Emergency Raincoat

An improved option to an emergency poncho, this raincoat is longer, with full sleeves, hood, and front snaps that make it easier to put on and take off, while packing almost as small. It’s thicker and more durable than the poncho, and it can be repacked and reused several times. Recommended.


Communications and lighting
Emergency radio with hand crank

Emergency Radio & USB Charger

Our top choice for value and versatility, after testing several options and reading many reviews. FM, AM, and Weather channels and a rechargeable 2000 mAh lithium-ion battery that can be charged via an outlet, small solar panel, or hand crank. Additionally takes 3 AAA batteries as a second power source.

This radio can be used to charge your cell phones or any other USB-rechargeable device. With no electricity, radios will also be an important source of news and entertainment.



After an earthquake, navigating through damaged buildings and crowded streets will be confusing. Having your hands free to carry any items you need, hold other people, or move things out of the way will be a big help. A headlamp is also nearly essential for two handed tasks like attending to wounds.  These basic headlamps take 3 AAA batteries and can flip down in order not to shine in other people’s faces. Consider buying extra batteries.


Emergency headlamp and clip light

Emergency Headlamp/Clip Light

Headlamps are great for walking, but annoying in groups of people and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. This handy magnetic USB Clip Light can be worn on your head with an adjustable strap (included) like a normal headlamp, or can also be simply clipped to your jacket or shirt to provide more comfortable hands-free lighting for simple tasks or around other people. It’s rechargeable with a USB connector (included) and can also be magnetically attached to any metal surface (fridge, car, etc.).

Can be recharged after a power loss with a cell phone charger or hand-crank radio.

LED emergency string lights

Battery-Powered String Lights

16′ LED string lights (warm white) with 8 settings.  Takes 3 AA batteries.

For eating meals, socializing, night lights, or bathroom lighting, LED string lights produce a warm white light similar to candlelight, without the danger of candles in a water-limited environment. Tested at 80 hours of constant use with 3 AA batteries (2-3 months of dinners).

energizer max batteries

Energizer Max batteries (4-pack AAA)

Don’t forget batteries! You will want to have at least enough to power any devices you purchase here, and an extra set or two is not a bad idea. Soon after a disaster batteries may be in short supply, and when they are available you will probably have to wait in line to get them. Batteries can also be used for trading.

Don’t rely on cheap batteries. Energizer Max batteries are top rated, zero mercury alkaline batteries with a 10 year life span and leakage protection for 2 years after fully used – which may be important as used batteries will be a major waste issue. Please note that if you put batteries in your devices, they are more likely to lose power in storage.

Image of 4-Pack of Energizer Max AA batteries

Energizer Max batteries (4-pack AA)

Don’t forget batteries! You will want to have at least enough to power any devices you purchase here, and an extra set or two is not a bad idea. Soon after a disaster batteries may be in short supply, and when they are available you will probably have to wait in line to get them. Batteries can also be used for trading.

Don’t rely on cheap batteries. Energizer Max batteries are top rated, zero mercury alkaline batteries with a 10 year life span and leakage protection for 2 years after fully used – which may be important as used batteries will be a major waste issue. Please note that if you put batteries in your devices, they are more likely to lose power in storage.


Folding pocket knife for emergency kit

Folding Tactical Knife

This inexpensive yet high quality knife impresses without hurting your pocketbook. 4.2 inches long with a 3 inch, stainless steel blade, belt/boot clip, and an ambidextrous thumb stud for one-handed deployment. The stainless steel skeleton handle will lighten the weight of your backpack, and it fits easily in your pocket. This knife performs as well as many much more expensive knives, and has a great feel.

Leatherman Wingman

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

For people who are looking for a good quality knife or cutting tool, the Leatherman Wingman is a beautifully designed multi-tool made by a great Portland company. We found this multi-too to be the best option we tested, based on craftsmanship, price, and utility. If you don’t want a multitool, make sure your emergency bag has a small cutting tool (knife, scissors) and a can opener.


  1. Spring-action needlenose pliers
  2. Spring-action regular pliers
  3. Wire stripper
  4. 420HC Combo knife
  5. Spring action scissors
  6. Package opener
  7. Ruler
  8. Can opener
  9. Bottle opener
  10. Wood/metal file
  11. Phillips screwdriver
  12. Medium screwdriver
  13. Small screwdriver


100 ft of Paracord

550 Paracord

Some kind of string, cord, or rope is often useful in an emergency situation. This 100% nylon paracord, also known as 550 Cord, is a commercial Type III cord with a minimum break strength of 550 lbs. Its kernmantle construction with an outer sheath and 7 inner strands is elastic and durable, made in the USA. 100 feet long. However, think about where you will be using your emergency bag. If you expect to be in a residential area, string and rope may be readily available, and your money may be better spent elsewhere. If you are likely to be on your own, this may be a more important item in your kit.

Work gloves

Textured Palm Work Gloves

After any major disaster you can expect a big mess. In the case of an earthquake, there will be rubble to move and a lot of broken glass. Think about protecting your hands – especially since you won’t want to waste water on cleaning wounds. Leather work gloves are nice for moving debris, but are very difficult to use when writing things down, using radios or other devices, or digging things out of your backpack.  These are comfortable, form fitting, and are easy to use for tasks that require dexterity while having the protection you need in handling rough objects. One note of caution though: never use a synthetic glove for picking up burning or extremely hot items.

If your gloves do not fit properly, contact us to exchange them for a different size.

Leather work gloves for emergency kit

Leather Palm Work Gloves

If you anticipate major cleanup activities after an earthquake involving heavy rubble, nails or other sharp objects, leather gloves provide excellent protection. Leather gloves also offer more padding for the hands and protection from hot or burning objects. However, they are bulky and poorly suited for tasks that involve filling out forms, handling controls (e.g., on a radio, phone, etc.), or taking items in and out of backpacks, containers, etc. These work gloves have a leather palm with fabric backing and knit cuffs for warmth and comfort. One size fits all.

Pry Bar

15 Inch Pry Bar

This steel, flat pry bar fits comfortably in your backpack, is not too heavy, and can be used to pry open a door or car door or lift a heavy object high enough to get fingers under. However, before adding this weight to your bag, think about how long you may have to walk with your bag on your back. Sometimes packing light is packing smart.

Anti-Fog Safety Glasses

Anti-Fog Safety Glasses

These plastic glasses are the size of normal glasses and come with an anti-fog coating. They fit more snugly than the larger safety glasses. If you want the feel of sunglasses that stick tightly to your face, these may be a good option.

safety glasses

Large Safety Glasses

These lightweight plastic glasses are smaller and lighter than traditional safety goggles, while covering a similar area. They can be worn on their own, and also have a lip along the brow to sit comfortably over prescription glasses. They also cling to the sides of your head so they don’t fall off when you lean over, which is important when doing paperwork or attending to injuries.

4 in 1 tool

On Duty 4 in 1 Tool

This tool is used to turn off residential gas or water, or for prying open doors or windows.
Aluminum tool is 11″ tall x 5 1/2″ wide x 1″ depth, fits easily in a backpack, is light and non-sparking. However, think carefully about whether you would use this item in an emergency. If you are at your home, you could turn off your gas with simple shut-off tool (see below) and a proper pry-bar would be more efficient. This is primarily for portable professional use by firefighters and NETs who may have to deal with residential issues, including opening doors.

Also note that some user have complained that the tool is too bulky to use for some residential gas lines.

Gas shut-off tool

Gas Shutoff Tool

Custom metal tool designed to turn off residential natural gas. Cut 9″ x 1.75″ out of flat steel, locally manufactured, with instructions sticker.

After an earthquake, immediately check the gas lines outside your house. Portland authorities say to turn it off only if you smell gas. If you don’t have a crescent/monkey wrench bigger than 10″, you need a tool like this one. Also consider one for your emergency bag – it takes up little space and could also be used to smash out a car window.

NW Natural Video: How to turn off residential gas

Basic duct tape

Duct Tape

One roll of Duck brand utility duct tape, 10 yards, max temperature rating of 200 degrees. Recommended!

Laminated city map of Portland or Seattle

Laminated city map (Portland or Seattle)

Laminated city map of Portland and surrounding area. If you need to walk home, you won’t want to take the same route you drove, and many roads will be impassable. You may need to consult a map to navigate your way.

Image of deck of cards

Deck of Cards

Standard deck of playing cards, 52 cards with 2 jokers. After a major natural disaster power may be out for long time, perhaps several months. Without TV, video games, and other electric entertainment options, and most people not working, you may find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. Cards are great for passing the time and hanging out socially with others. Think for a second: what will you do with your free time?


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